Smart way ahead [New Straits Time (Malaysia)]
(New Straits Time (Malaysia) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Quantum leaps in smart technology offer new and exciting opportunities for work and play, writes Siti Syameen Md Khalili.
EVERYTHING is "smart" these days. From phones and watches to television and light switches. But what does the word really mean?
For a number of industry players, smart can be described in so many flavours and involves so many components.
Lenovo Malaysia country general manager Khoo Hung Chuan, believes a smart device starts with smart designs that users can quickly appreciate.
"There are so many smart devices out there that there is a need to set our products apart by incorporating smarter designs so that users can tell the difference the moment they pick it up and hold it in their hands.
"For example, many smartphones and tablets are slim and flat but our latest Yoga Tablet series offer a multimode, non-symmetrical design. Users can hold it with just one hand as the weight of its cylindrical battery falls into your palm to offer a steadier grip. You can also set it on its stand to watch videos or tilt it for comfortable and familiar typing experience," he says.
He adds that though Lenovo is a relatively new player in the tablet and smartphone segments, the brand is currently ranked third worldwide.
Razer chief executive officer Tan Min-Liang says smart devices are the result of an unending effort to innovate and that products with smart features give users an extra edge.
"Gamers are more tech-savvy now than before, they understand technology and tend to stay ahead of trends. Our products are smarter than ever with Razer Synapse 2.0. It's the world's first cloud-based system for gamers that brings the personalised settings for gamers into the cloud. We have evolved Razer Synapse 2.0 to a point where your peripherals can now 'talk' to each other. For example, you can now change the sensitivity of your Razer mouse by holding a key on your Razer keyboard," explains Tan, who is also Razer's chief gamer.
Assistant sales manager of Eco Business at Schneider Electric, Chang See Yin says smart technologies must also be able to help users manage their energy usage.
"With the advance of smart homes and mobile networks, the smartphone is fast becoming the device where everything converges. Schneider's Wiser Home Control - an automation system that controls a user's home cinema, air conditioning, lighting sprinkler systems, curtains or shutters as well as security systems - incorporates encrypted wireless technology to ensure secure data transmission. You can remotely access, monitor and control your home from any computer, your smartphone or any web-enabled device from anywhere at any time," says Chang, adding that with the electricity tariff going up by at least 14.89 per cent soon, it is time users adopt smart products that help to reduce energy consumption.
In trying to ascertain what smart truly means, Intel Electronics Malaysia and Brunei country manager Prakash Mallya says within the tech industry, the term is constantly evolving. He explains: "There is no strict definition of smart. It's a function of the device, function of the infrastructure presently available and how the experiences evolve. Today, most devices are performance-driven because of Intel's relentless pursuit of performance and many countries have decent connectivity as well. Think about a future where you will have devices that are connected and they have the intelligence built-in, so that context becomes apparent."
Prakash offers an example. "If you have a device in your hand and enters a place where a promotion is running, it is possible for you to get updates via that device. It is possible for the devices to respond to you proactively without having to tell them, based on your profile, likes and dislikes.
"So smart is about devices not only being intelligent but also proactive to user's needs, taste and desires - that is the vision of smart. I don't think we're there yet," he says but believes the industry is poised to make that change over a period of time.
"Despite all the innovations that the industry is doing - whether it is perception, voice, gesture, touch, different formfactors or Internet connectivity being of higher quality across the board - all these have to come together so that the devices are not just interacting with you but also the rest to get you the data you need," says Prakash.
Highlighting 2014 as a year to be filled with PCs offering innovative designs such as 2-in-1s as well as tablets that are not just for content consumption but also creation, Prakash points out that wearable smart devices too will likely experience further evolution.
"Wearable is a very nascent market. The bigger piece of the puzzle in wearable is that there is no open standards today. If you see wearables and the brands involved, everybody is vertical. There is a unique experience to it, which is great, but think of a situation where using my wearable, I can connect to a standard device based on certain requirement from a different vendor or brand and then I can share," he says.
Prakash also believes that technologies that enable wearable to be what it is today will likely trickle down to products beyond consumer technology, involving areas such as fitness, health, medicine and even cars.
"Wearable is just the beginning of a big change. Today you need a PC, a smartphone and a wearable. Potentially, wearable can replace smartphones at some stage because you need voice and data connectivity. Wearable can play that role provided it has the connectivity to other devices when you need it. The potential is huge, we're just beginning to scratch the surface."
KEY IN COHESION
Microsoft's vision of smart entails the combination of innovative software, services and hardware in bringing users a new, more complete and enveloping experience.
Sunny Ooi, director of Consumer Channels Group, Microsoft Malaysia, says: "At Microsoft, we believe the best of technology is encountered through the integration of devices and services - not just one or the other - in a world where great devices are paired with a powerful collection of essential apps and cloud-based services that empower individuals and organisations with the tools needed to be efficient and effective."
Citing projections from IDC and Forrester, he says, four elements - Mobility, Social, Cloud and Big Data - will continue to shape the IT landscape and the way smart devices are being packaged.
He explains: "With Mobility, new devices and always-on connectivity are increasing people's expectations for mobile experiences. Social technologies are fundamentally changing how people connect and share with their colleagues, partners and customers in the workplace. Cloud computing is enabling faster innovation, new user experiences, and a more flexible and efficient application development and delivery model. With massive data growth and globalisation, the ability of an enterprise to manage and gain insight into Big Data is becoming a key differentiator."
He adds that Forrester Research (a global research and advisory firm serving professionals) projects that these four megatrends would drive at least 80 per cent of the IT industry growth by the year 2020. Smart devices of the future have to be able to support individuals and organisations looking to incorporate these megatrends into devices and services that will enable them to do the activities they value most - at home and at the workplace.
"What sets us apart is the devices and services strategy that delivers one, seamless experience across all devices anytime, anywhere, and the tools, resources and partnerships to support this for the long run. We will continue to execute on this strategy next year by driving innovation in software, services and hardware to bring a new, more complete and enveloping experience for users in the country," says Ooi.
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